Detroit had Motown, launching the careers of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Memphis had Sun Records, the first label to record Elvis Presley.

Tucson had Zoom Records, launching the careers of two Catalina High School seniors into the world of rock ‘n’ roll.

It was 1959. Ray Lindstrom and his good friend Burt Schneider were just 17 years old when they came up with an idea that would dramatically change the music scene in Tucson.

“We were at a high school dance after a basketball game,” remembered Lindstrom. “This is 1959, rock ‘n’ roll is just kinda started, it’s really a big deal.”

“Jack Wallace and the Hi-Tones, they were on stage and they were performing at the dance, and girls were screaming. They were yelling and everything. I turned to my friend Burt and I said, ‘Burt, let’s start a record company and record these guys.’ And so we did.”

The two knew nothing about making a record, but they saw an ad in Billboard Magazine for a place in Phoenix that pressed records. Lindstrom gave them a call.

“I’m a high school kid in Tucson,” recalled Lindstrom. “I want to make a record, what do I do? The guy spent one minute telling me there’s no recording studio in Tucson. ‘Come to Phoenix, and you can record it here, and I’ll come over and get it, and I’ll press the copies of it for you. There’s your record.'”

“Ray and Burt, I think, came to my house and we played,” said Jack Wallace in a 2012 interview. “They said ‘okay we like this, we like this. Let’s go.’ Bingo, we had a record.”

On February 7, 1959just eight days after the school danceRay and Burt had Jack Wallace and the Hi-Tones in the studio of Audio Recordings of Arizona.

Little did they know that Jack Miller, a future Grammy award-winning engineer, would be there to help them.

“He went on to Hollywood and became a famous engineer,” Lindstrom said. “He recorded all the Monkees records. He recorded probably one of the most famous records of all time: He recorded ‘Satisfaction’ by the Rolling Stones. Well, he was our engineer at the beginning of this.”

An hour of studio time then cost $15. It cost Ray and Burt $30 to have 200 records pressed. Add 5 bucks for gas, and the first Zoom record cost them just $50.

“Within a week it was pressed and the Tucson radio stations, who were just happy to have a local group, they were playing the record,” said Lindstrom. “Then we were selling the records to the local record stores.”

Pat: “Tell me why ‘Zoom,’ where did that come from?” Ray: “Just kind of popped into our minds and we thought it was nice and catchy and it was Zoom Records. Pat: “And it took off.” Ray: “Well, it did.”

“We started recording other groups, recalled Lindstrom. “We recorded Pete Ronstadt and the Nightbeats.”

Pete Ronstadt later became Police Chief in Tucson. His younger sister, Linda Ronstadt went on to even more musical success.

“His sister would be around, you know, messing around and we would tell her ‘get lost kid this is serious business’,” Lindstrom said. “Well, that was my first mistake.”

Later in the summer of 1959, Zoom Records also recorded another Catalina High School group called King Rock and the Knights.

Then, as fast as Zoom Records took off, it was over.

“Everybody went away to college or did what they were going to do,” recalled Lindstrom. “We all grew up.”

Lindstrom went on to work as a live announcer on KGUN 9 in the early 1960s, even doing live commercials and appearing on The Marshall KGUN Show as Tom-Tom the World’s Tallest Clown.

He is also credited with inventing the infomercial industry in 1984. It led to Lindstrom’s induction into the Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Today, thanks to the Internet and music streaming services, Zoom Records is enjoying a resurgence.

“All of a sudden, all of our records are everywhere,” said Lindstrom. “They love old American rock ‘n’ roll in Europe.”

Pat: “Did you make any money off of it?” Ray: “Not a dime. But we sure had a lot of fun and I tell you whatI wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The world continues to enjoy the 1959 music of Tucson’s first record labeland the Absolutely Arizona history of two Catalina High School seniors who created Zoom Records.

Lindstrom, Schneider and Zoom Records were recently indicted into the Tucson Musicians Museum, located at 260 S. Church Ave.


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